Amboseli National Park Safari Guide

safarigo   Kenya  

Amboseli is often called the ‘Land of Giants’ – due to the impressive elephants here carrying massive tusks. The animals are set against breathtaking vistas of Mt Kilimanjaro, which makes an awesome backdrop to the small park. Aside from elephants, many plains animals are easy to spot. Fantastic photo opportunities are possible, and early mornings are best for clear views of Kilimanjaro.



Pros & Cons


Excellent wildlife viewing
Four of the Big Five are easily found (rhino excluded)
Outstanding elephant sightings
Views of Kilimanjaro on clear days
Excellent birding, especially waterbirds in swamp habitat
Good range of accommodation catering to different budgets and styles
The park gets very busy, especially in the high season
Big cats are relatively hard to spot


Wildlife & Animals

Amboseli is one of Kenya’s most popular parks, and offers great wildlife viewing. The park is famous for its elephants, but most big safari animals can be spotted here. Black rhino has become extinct, but the other four of the Big Five are present. The plains support an abundance of large herbivores including wildebeest, Burchell's zebra and Grant's and Thomson's gazelle.

Wildlife Highlights

Amboseli’s specialty is its elephants. Big herds roam the dusty plains in the morning and evening. During the day the elephants mostly spend their time partially submerged, foraging in Ol Okenya swamp. Having been protected from poaching for a long time, the Amboseli elephants carry particularly impressive ivory and are very relaxed around cars.

Birds

Amboseli is a good birding destination and more than 420 species have been recorded here. The swamps are great for water-associated birds such as egrets, herons, pelicans and crowned cranes. Large numbers of flamingos may be present in the Wet seasons (March to May and October to December). The grassland areas offer some interesting ground birds such as Hartlaub’s bustard and the localized Pangani longclaw. The acacia woodland holds some dry country specials such as steel-blue whydah, white-bellied go-away bird and the Von der Decken’s hornbill.

Best Time to Visit

Although Amboseli can be visited at any time of year it is recommended to go in the dry months, which are from June to October and January to February.

Views of Kilimanjaro are hit-and-miss, but chances are best early morning and late afternoon in the Wet season months from November to May, when the sky is clear of dust.

June to October – Dry Season


Wildlife watching is better when it’s dry and animals gather at water sources
Mainly sunny, almost no rainfall
Malaria is much less of a problem in the Dry season
It gets very dry and dusty
The sky is hazy and the scenery isn’t as pretty


November to May – Wet Season


Scenically the park is at its best
April to June is low season and lower rates may apply
Plenty of animals to be seen despite being the Wet season
Best time for bird watching and migratory birds are present
Views of Kilimanjaro are best after rainfall, when the sky is clear of dust
Road conditions can be bad in April and May
Planned activities, such as game drives, may be interrupted in the peak rainfall months especially April


Weather & Climate

Conditions in Amboseli NP are hot and dry. Rain typically falls as short, heavy showers. During the day expect average temperatures of around 28°C/82°F and 15°C/59°F at night. Early morning activities, such as game drives, require warm clothing. The ‘long rains’ usually fall from mid-March to mid-May while the ‘short rains’ are from late October to mid-December.

Dry Season – June to September


These are the coolest months and typically have bright, sunny days. It is very dry with practically no rain.
June & July – It is normally sunny. Expect average temperatures of around 25°C/77°F in the afternoon.
August & September – Daytime temperatures are on the rise until the rain breaks. Although temperature peaks are far higher, the average in September is about 26°C/79°F.

Wet Season – October to May


The Wet season is marked by the ‘short rains’ followed by the ‘long rains’. January and February is a drier interlude. Driving can be a challenge in April and May when rains cause road conditions to deteriorate.
October, November & December – The rains generally begin at some point in October and peak in November. Normally it doesn’t rain for the whole day; however, afternoon storms are common. The average temperature is 28°C/82°F during the day, but it increases before it rains.
January & February – The exact start and finish of this Dry period separating the Wet seasons is never predictable. February, though, is the hottest month, and the average afternoon temperature is 30°C/86°F (expect higher peaks).
March, April & May – The long rains generally start mid- to late-March. It seldom rains for the entire day, but afternoon showers can be expected. The wettest month is April. Expect temperatures in the afternoon to reach 28°C/82°F.


Getting There

Amboseli is located 365km/226mi southeast of Nairobi. Self-drive from Nairobi to the reserve is a good option. You can also drive from other parks if you’re doing a road trip around the country. The distance from Tsavo East or Tsavo West is about 460km/285mi and the driving time is about eight hours.

There are daily scheduled flights from Nairobi to Amboseli’s airstrip as well as flights from Tsavo West and the 
Masai Mara.

Nairobi is a popular entry point into. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), is located 15km/9mi southeast of Nairobi. The country’s second international airport is Moi International Airport (MBA), and is 9km/6mi west of Mombasa.